Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Dark Goddess by Sarwat Chadda

July 2010, Puffin 
384 pages, Paperback 
Review copy 

Children's, 12+, 

Action, moderate violence, werewolves, heartstrings tugged, fast paced, 

Summary from Penguin 

After the death of her soulmate Kay by her very own sword, Billi SanGreal has thrown herself into the brutal regime of Templar duties with utter abandon. There is no room for feelings any more - her life is now about hunting down the Unholy.
But when Billi and another Knight Templar are caught at the heart of a savage werewolf attack, only Billi survives - except for a young girl at the scene who Billi unthinkingly drags away with her as they escape. But Vasalisa is no ordinary girl. She is an avatar with an uncontrollable power - and it's not only the werewolves who want her.
Billi has to flee to the frosty climes of Russia, with a human timebomb who, it seems, could destroy the world . . .

Nayuleska's thoughts
After the tragedies endured in Devil's Kiss, Billi gets on with her job. Her life will never be fun, she's a Templar. There will always be monsters to fight, so why get attached to people, to things, when it could all end in an instant? I admire Billi for taking that stance...but only for a minute or so. By loving people, by wishing to protect them, a person can gain an edge in fighting. Yes, it can be a double-edged sword - feelings can and are used against Billi. But slowly, as Billi gets to know Vasalisa she can't help but caring about her. Billi tries to bury the feelings deep, but it was clear to me that Vasalisa, despite all that the little girl is, she melts Billi's heart. She melts the hardness, not into complete goo (I really don't see Billi parading around in pink), but she brings back Billi's humanity. I have to confess that Vasilisa is competing with Billi for my favourite character of this book. Her power is in high demand. Potentially, if allowed, her power could be used for good. Such a shame the underworld is after her. Billi saves her every now and then. But there are enemies trying to stop Billi, enemies who she'll have to work alongside with for a while. This second book in Billi's adventure shows a more mature (mostly) Billi. There is plenty of fighting and drama, which Billi is a key player in. She knows how to fight, but she isn't an expert. She is still a young Templar, but one who has the potential to live a few more days, so long as she lets others help her. Which she sort of does - well, new characters don't give her a say in the matter! After losing a few in the previous book, I was glad to enjoy the new characters, who manage to annoy Billi a lot (what's new), and occasionally make her smile. New faces, new places. Billi gets to travel too - although not always under her own free will.

I love the new style cover! I've got the old one for Devil's Kiss, but this new one gives a better portrayal of what the book is like. 

Final conclusion
Billi delves further into the darker side of life, discovering what's important to her and how far she'll go to save the world. 

Be sure to check out the first book, Devil's Kiss, and also Sarwat Chadda's website. 

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